High Minor Pitchers

It’s been a rough couple of days on major league pitching
prompting me to write a fantasy article on bad projections based on age versus
control. Here I’d like to extend the conversation to the minors by reviewing a
couple of teammates at Triple-A.
Triple-A Buffalo – Jeremy Sowers versus Fausto Carmona























































































































Both of these lines are decent, the antitheses of what we were
witness to in the majors the past couple of days. Carmona posted a 2.17-to-1
strike-to-ball ratio against Sowers’ 2-to-1, both numbers are acceptable, very
good against Matt Cain’s 1.35 major league performance Friday night. Carmona is expecting a call up next week. But why do I, a
prospect guy that likes stuff and K-rate more than any other, prefer Sowers to
Carmona for the long haul?

Carmona has better stuff/velocity and sound control, but has
given up more hits than innings pitched in his four-year minor league career
and his strikeout-per inning ratio has declined at each level sitting at 5.31
last year at Buffalo. Note the ground ball to fly ball ratio. Sowers’ 10-2 line
might be an aberration but Carmona has been a guy who gives up his share of fly
balls. That in combination with the hits yielded as a minor leaguer despite the
glowing scouting reports, and the stadium, league, and competition within the
AL Central doesn’t bode well for his success. CBS Sportsline made a recent
comparison to Ervin Santana suggesting he’ll have the same impact, but frankly,
I don’t know how they justify it. They’re both from the Dominican Republic and
have interesting names? If I were to draw a statistical comparison it would be
to Carlos Siva,  2-3 years away from the current Twins’ stats. But nobody wants to here that!

I prefer Sowers for the long haul as a guy who doesn’t have
the same stuff, but has out-performed Carmona through his minor league career.
He shouldn’t be the next in line as he had but one Triple-A start prior to
Friday, and needs at least a half-season of the higher competition. And despite
the hype of a sixth overall college pick in 2004, he’s not an ace in the
making. History lesson of note – In 1983 the first overall pick was collegian
Tim Belcher, a decent number two/three at his peak who had a long and solid
journeyman career. Another 18 picks and 10 pitchers later we come to the Red
Sox’s pick and the arguably the greatest pitcher of all time, one Roger

Sowers looks like a left-handed number two at his peak. I’m
not going to make a comparison to David Wells as same pitcher type or athlete,
but that’s his basic projected career profile statistically. He relies on
smarts over pure stuff and is a safer bet than Carmona. The real ace in the
making is Adam Miller who made a splash in his Double-A debut pitching six
shutout innings on three hits and walk while striking out seven.

I think many have Carmona profiled on stuff believing he will be one of the guys that out does his minor league stats in the majors. I believe that title will eventually go to Cubs’ Angel Guzman and don’t see Carmona in the same league eventually. But he does throw strikes, something lacking at the back of the major league staffs thus far in 2006.
Dan Quon


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